, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 25 – Hundreds of youths staged a demonstration in the streets of Nairobi on Tuesday to voice their support for the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2012 which is pending in Parliament.
The group under the umbrella of the National Young Patriots said the Bill is crucial – particularly at this time when Kenya is faced with serious security challenges posed by Al Shabaab militants.
“We wish to categorically state that this Bill does not target any faith, religious group or sectarian interests as peddled by people who are hell-bent in ensuring that the government and civilian efforts in fighting terror does not succeed,” read a petition signed by the group chairman Mark Maina.
A group of Muslim leaders have opposed the Bill as currently worded, saying it targets their members and should be amended. Internal Security Minister Katoo ole Metito has vowed to rally fellow legislators to support the bill when it is tabled in Parliament.
“This is a very important Bill in the war against terrorism, I will lobby MPs to support it,” he said.
The youths who demonstrated on Tuesday accused those opposed to it of being mischievous “because it is meant to help the police fight terrorism within the law.”
“This Bill is a great step forward unlike the Anti Terrorism Bill 2006 which was drafted under the old Constitution and is in line with other East African countries like Uganda and Tanzania that have already passed terrorism,” the group said.
The more than 500 youth first assembled at Uhuru Park before they marched to Parliament buildings where they handed over their petition which was addressed to the Speaker of the National Assembly.
It was also copied to the Prime Minister and Internal Security Minister.
In his maiden press conference on Monday, newly appointed Minister for Internal Security Metito said terrorism was among major challenges his ministry was facing in restoring security in the country, but assured of his commitment to fighting it.
“This Bill is a great step forward unlike the Anti Terrorism Bill 2006 which was drafted under the old Constitution and is in line with other East African countries like Uganda and Tanzania that have already passed terrorism.”
“We are faced with many challenges, but terrorism is one of the main ones. I want to assure Kenyans that we are committed to fighting terrorism in this country and we need their support,” Metito said.
Kenya has been hit by several blasts since late last year when President Mwai Kibaki deployed his military to fight Al Shabaab insurgents in Somalia.
Towns in the northern part of the country which borders Somalia are the worst hit, with at least one grenade or landmine explosion attack reported weekly.
At least 100 people have been killed and many more others wounded in the attacks which have also occurred in Nairobi and Mombasa.